9 thoughts on “How Do Texas Cattle Owners Adapt to Drought?”

  1. “This is adaptation at work. Cattle and people have some things in common.”

    More Chicago stuff (which they already have a surplus of in Texas, I do hear).

    You could frikkin’ *nuke* Texas, and people would adapt. This doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing.

  2. I was in the Texas Hill Country in July and August (goodness, it was hot), and each of the few trees on each of the ranches that we passed had a motley collection of ranch creatures — mostly cattle, with some sheep, goats, dogs and even cats — gathered beneath it, to catch the shade. I assumed they were there to cool down, but perhaps they were queued up for the bus to Minnesota.

  3. Only so many can move north. The rest must stay behind or move elsewhere. Ask Mexicans, Guatemalans, etc. And the social unrest in the north has costs as well.

  4. Gee, why didn’t you link to the most penetrating part if the discussion at Grist?

    “Thank you University of Chicago for giving us another pan-glossian goof ball economist. I have to wonder if Matthew Kahn is any relation to another Dr. Strangelove, Herman Kahn who wrote a cheerful book in the 1960s called On Thermonuclear War, which proposed that a nuclear war was winnable. It would not surprise me in the least if they were related. They are certainly related intellectually.

    Just as Herman Kahn dispassionately discussed the vaporizing of tens of millions of people, Matthew discusses the silver lining of a world racked by tens of millions of climate refugees. Why that is not a catastrophe! That is an opportunity!

    The weakest part of this argument, other than a total lack of compassion for people and the planet, is his assumption that climate change will be gradual. This is a charming little bit of self delusion indulged in by both deniers and climate activists. It assumes that the angry beast we are poking with a stick, will be nice enough to deal us only cards we want. No wild cards, when in fact the climatic history of the earth has witnessed tons of suprises, wild cards, sudden climatic flips, and other “opportunities.”

    Mr. Kanh is well spoken, educated, and has some interesting ideas. He is also totally nuts.”

    Randy Cunningham

  5. Good lord, did you really just argue that flooding Bangladesh might finally solve that shortage of cheap labor in India? Win-win!

  6. Too bad there isn’t some way of using electricity to cool buildings so that people can work in hot climates. But I guess in the long run it’s a good thing because that would lead to a lot of misallocation of capital and higher-then-necessary fixed costs for society, and then, psychology being what it is, a political movement devoted to preventing sensible adaptation.

    Oh, wait.

  7. Personally I think Matthew is wasting our time by continually viewing this issue through the lens of a pointy-headed economist. Time for an entrepreneur to step up!

    The problem we have is that people are whining about it getting to hot, and their land getting flooded. OK, so start a breeding program to create people who LIKE it hotter, who don’t mind living in a flood plain, heck who are smaller so more of them can fit in their country. It’s not hard — start with a bunch of people who are already sorta adapted to heat, to wet, to being small — maybe pygmies? Keep them in a breeding facility, start them breeding when they’re twelve, feed them fertility drugs so each birth generates eight kids or so. Test each baby for heat resistance, size and resistance to athletes’ foot, and throw away the babies that are not superior. Heck, maybe throw some genetic engineering in there. Within about 40 years or so, you should have a fine race of people well-adapted to the new climate. You could call them epsilons — I think I read that in a book somewhere, and it’s a catchy word — sounds good as a brand.

    Of course a program like this isn’t free, so what’s the business plan? You charge each kid born from this program, once all the improvements are in place, a fee for using your intellectual property in the course of their life! My first thought was a fixed fee at birth, but then I thought “screw it, these people are using MY IP every day of their lives — that deserves an ongoing rent, not just a one-time fee”.

    1. From CharleyCarp‘s link:

      If Texas ranchers don’t send cattle north, they’ll probably slaughter them—maybe as many as 500,000, according to Texas A&M University. “We’re going to be talking about a historically large reduction in beef-cow numbers,” David Anderson, an economist at the university’s extension service, recently told Bloomberg. “If nothing else changes, that’s tighter supplies and less beef and higher prices.” And the size of the U.S. cattle herd was already at a 50-year low.

      High beef prices could be good for Montana ranchers—if they keep enough hay to feed their cattle through the winter. If not, it’ll be awfully expensive to buy more.

      “Everybody’s been caught up in the frenzy of shipping their hay to Texas,” says Douglas Sidwell. “There’ve been a few guys who I think are going to get in trouble because they’ve shipped too much hay, and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens there. If we get any winter at all we’re going to be in pretty poor shape.”

      Meanwhile, the drought in Texas shows no signs of abating. Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon predicted last week that it could last until 2020.

      So continuing drought likely means less beef cattle supply. Will that drive up beef prices? Will that mean a shift to different meat types or more hunger for the poor? Maybe this will reduce obesity somewhat if some folks can’t figger out how to adapt…

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